Recalibrating HP

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Right now Con plays a major role in determining ones HP. A little too much if you ask me. On one end of the spectrum, a 10 Con rogue has on average 72.5 HP by level 20, while on the other end the 20 Con dwarven barbarian with toughness has an average of 275.5 HP (that is 3.8 times as much HP for those doing the math).

Sure these are the extreme ends of the spectrum, but shouldn't the game not fall apart at the extremes? The HP values only seem to work if all PCs have a minimum of 14 Con and no PC goes above 18 Con (and god forbid you make a dwarf with toughness!). Who really thinks it is acceptable for the 18 Con dwarven wizard to have 3 times as much HP as the 10 Con elven rogue?

That just seems...wrong.

I think we can design a better system. Here is my suggestion:

Hit Die fall into three categories. High: d10 (or 5.5), Medium: d8 (or 4.5), and Low: d6 (or 3.5). Fighters, barbarians, and paladins have high HD. Druids, clerics, rogues, and rangers have medium HD. Wizards have low HD. Do not add your Con mod to HP ever.

Level 0: HP is equal to your Con score. No bonus for hit dice. Level 0 creatures include peasants, goblins, kobolds, and any other standard humanoids with no class levels. *For grittier games, remove this bonus from the players.

Level 1+: Roll your class HD and add the result to your HP total. You may reroll any value less than or equal to your Con mod.

For those who do not like rolled HP, the calculation is simple. Each point of Con mod increases your average HP per level by 0.5.

Using this method, a 10 con wizard would gain 3.5 HP per level (45 total HP at level 10). A 16 Con wizard would gain 5 HP per level (66 total HP at level 10).

Note: Using this method we would need to change the toughness feat and the dwarven feature that grants extra HP to not provide a flat HP bonus.

Once all is said and done, this method reduces HP totals and reduces the HP variance between party members while still keeping Con as a useful ability score past level 1. At one extreme we have a 20 Con level 20 barbarian who can expect to have 180 HP on average. At the other we have a 10 Con level 20 wizard who can expect to have 80 HP on average. The difference, while still large, is significantly better than a 72 HP wizard vs a 275 HP barbarian.

Also, the level 0 Con score buffer allows for PCs to endure an extra hit at low levels to prevent the dreaded "1-shot", but it is easily removable for those who want a grittier game. (It could also be 1/2 Con score at level 0 for that gritty feel).
I would prefer to limit the HP past level 10, much like the AD&D. I do not have a problem with low HP at low level. by 3rd level you shouldn't have '1-shot' concerns unless you are fighting that tough of a monster or trap.
The solution that I've used for a SRD-based product was to divide the 20 levels into four tiers of gameplay and only add the constitution modifier at the beginining of those tiers. I want to note that this ameliorates the problem but doesn't eliminate it. It also meant there were some occasional dramatic shifts in expected hitpoint values which were sometimes problematic for balancing the threat from higher and lower level monsters.
Wear a long shirt so no one can see your low HP.

 

 

I would prefer to limit the HP past level 10, much like the AD&D. I do not have a problem with low HP at low level. by 3rd level you shouldn't have '1-shot' concerns unless you are fighting that tough of a monster or trap.



AD&D also had much less HP in general as only exceptionally high Con scores added more than 1HP per level. With the switch to 3e HP scaling the HP discrepancies began to become rather apparent.

As to the 1-shot issue, I gave an easy suggestion on how to keep a little more lethality in low level games (by either removing or reducing the level 0 HP bonus).

I do find D&D to be silly in that it is the only game where HP outpaces damage by such a margin that the game effectively becomes less challenging as you level instead of more challenging. I find that backwards. I want low levels to be EZ mode (you are fighting giant rats, kobolds, and goblins afterall) and higher levels to really put the fear of death into the PC.

Although, I do think, even with the HP buffer, you can have a 10 Con level 1 wizard with 13 HP who can easily be 2-shot by an Orc with a greataxe. I feel the fear of being 2-shot is much more interesting than being 1-shot simply because you have no chance to ever be afraid if you can be 1-shot. Those kinds of games always felt more humorous and less serious than games where being 1-shot was less likely, but going down in 2 or 3 hits was common.
I like it. Not surprising, because Con score + (hit dice x level) is something I've been advocating in several threads. Lol

Does this affect the rules for hit dice at all? Only healing 8 hp once per day when you have 20 total hp seems not all that great. 
I like it. Not surprising, because Con score + (hit dice x level) is something I've been advocating in several threads. Lol

Does this affect the rules for hit dice at all? Only healing 8 hp once per day when you have 20 total hp seems not all that great. 



I hope Hit Die healing dies in a fire and stays dead. Long dead. They are everything bad about healing surges with none of the advantages. They are clunky, awkward, and confusing. Ugh, for the most part I just pretend they don't exist and are a placeholder to some awesome other healing system.

Show
On a side note, I am partial to the idea of Vigor. You have 3+Con mod vigor. During a short rest you may spend one or more points of vigor to recover 25% of your max HP per point spent. You recover one point of vigor per hour of rest, and all vigor after a long rest.

(Optional) Second Wind: You may use an action to spend a point of vigor and regain 25% of your max HP. After using this ability you may not use it again until you have taken a short rest.
(Optional) Gritty Gameplay: You only recover vigor when you take a long rest.
(Optional) Really gritty gameplay: You recover one point of vigor per nights rest. Cure wounds spells do not revocer HP but instead recover spent vigor.
I think dumping con should have a down side.  The problem is that dumping other stats doesn't have an equally bad penalty.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

Con score at first level (but not every level after that), or Con mod every five levels, are both decent solutions. The former has the oddity of making Con worth relatively less as you gain levels, while the latter gives a sort of odd staggering effect (much like the tier system in 4E).

My personal preference (assuming we can't just invent new variables) is to add (Con mod / 4) at each level - if you have Con 12, then you would add +0.25 HP at each level. Con 20 is only worth 25 HP (relative to Con 10) over the course of 20 levels, and its primary function would be saving against really nasty spells rather than significantly increasing HP.
The metagame is not the game.
the think before you alter the HP system you have to account for HD, spell and attack damage, as well as healing. The synergy between HP and attack rolls also has to be considered. When you alter one you will find problems with the others. I would stick with max HD+CON bonus at 1st level, 1/2HD+CON bonus until level 10, then 1 or 2 HP per level after that.

I happen to like the way HD works as a healing system now. I even allow the players to take an action to spend an HD in combat (second wind). It matches up well with the HP gained each level in regards to healing non-magically.

I do agree the HP gains over damage output seems unusual and could be addressed simply by allowing classes to gain a damage bonus by level. The current system of gaining a 1W die every 5 levels or so is still behind the curve...
Yeah the current system doesn't look right to me.  A high con needs to feed into saving throws and endurance checks but making the gap too wide is unhelpful.  I like the compromise.  Dumping con still has consequences and if your con bonus is added to your hit dice, whenyou rest that's still a pretty massive effect overall.
I would think that the Druid should be in the low bracket with the Wizard. For shapeshifting Druids that are supposed to engage in melee, they should gain a DR value or just temporary hit points or something (or be a separate class that gets a 1d8).
This is why I came up with my own starting hitpoints/hitpoint progression system:

2xMaxed HD for class at 1st level (d10 for Fighter, d8 for Rogue/Battle cleric, d6 for Mage/Caster Cleric) plus Con Modifier
then you have 2 HD for healing purposes using the 5e HD mechanic.
Then, you only add HD (and the resulting hitpoints) plus Con Mod at every EVEN level.

This has the affect of giving a few more hitpoints at lower levels, but slowing down the overall advancement of both hitpoints and HD as you go through the levels. You only have a total of 12 HD plus (11xCon Mod) @ 20th level.

No Con Mod:
d6:
1st Lv: 12hps, 2nd Lv: upto 18hps, 4th Lv: upto 24 hps, 6th Lv: upto 30 hps, 8th Lv: upto 36 hps, 10th Lv: upto 42 hps, 20th Lv: 72 hps
d8:
1st Lv: 16hps, 2nd Lv: upto 24hps, 4th Lv: upto 32hps, 6th Lv: upto 40hps, 8th Lv: upto 48 hps, 10th Lv: upt 56 hps, 20th Lv: 96 hps
d10:
1st Lv: 20hps, 2nd Lv: upto 30hps, 4th Lv: upto 40hps, 6th Lv: upto 50hps, 8th Lv: upto 60hps, 10th Lv: upto 70hps, 20th Lv: 120 hps

Con Mod of +2:
d6:
1st Lv: 14hps, 2nd Lv: upto 22 hps, 4th Lv: upto 30hps, 6th Lv: upto 38hps, 8th Lv: upto 46hps, 10th Lv: 54hps, 20th Lv: 94hps
d8:
1st Lv: 18hps, 2nd Lv: upto 28hps, 4th Lv: upto 38hps, 6th Lv: upto 48hps, 8th Lv: upto 58hps, 10th Lv: 68hps, 20th Lv: 118 hps
d10:
1st Lv: 22hps, 2nd Lv: upto 34hps, 4th Lv: upto 46hps, 6th Lv: upto 58hps, 8th Lv: upto 70hps, 10th Lv: upto 82hps, 20th Lv:  142hps

Con Mod of +5(20 in Con)
d6:
1st Lv: 17 hps, 2nd Lv: upto  28hps, 4th Lv: upto 39hps, 6th Lv: upto 50hps, 8th Lv: upto 61hps, 10th Lv:upto 72hps, 20th Lv: 127hps
d8:
1st Lv: 21hps, 2nd Lv: upto 34hps, 4th Lv: upto 47hps, 6th Lv: upto 60 hps, 8th Lv: upto 73hps, 10th Lv: upto 86hps, 20th Lv: 151hps
d10:
1st Lv: 25hps, 2nd Lv: upto 40hpts, 4th Lv: upto 55hps, 6th Lv: upto 70hps, 8th Lv: upto 85hps, 10th Lv: upto 100hps, 20th Lv: 175hps

So, difference between No Con Mod and +5 Con Mod @ 20th level is:
d6: 72 vs 127, ie 55hps
d8: 96 vs 151, ie 55hps
d10: 120 vs 175, ie 55hps
Difference between a 20th level D6er with no con and a 20th level d10er with a 20 con: 72 vs 175, or 103 hps

current system Difference between a 20th level d6er with no con and a 20th level d20er with a 20 con: 120 vs 255, or 135 hps
current system you would have 20 HD for healing, My system you would only have 12 HD for healing.
Hitpoints max out at over 250 in current system, but max out at 175 in My system so the fighter has 80 fewer potential hitpoints with a 20 Con @ 20th level.

I would also be okay with the vigor system for healing instead of the HD system, and both of the Vigor varients work for however gritty game you want.

Using My baseline system, for grittier hitpoints, you could:
1. Max 1 HD and Roll the other, still add Con Mod
2. Roll both HD, still add Con Mod
3. Roll both HD, and don't add Con Mod 
4. Super Gritty/Rocket Tag: drop to 1 HD, Rolled or not, don't add Con Mod
Using My baseline system, for superheroic hitpoints,  yoou could:
1. Max 3HD and add Con Mod
2. Add Con Score to 2 rolled HD
3. Add Con Score to 2 Maxed HD
4. Start with 2x Con Score, add HD plus Con Mod every Even Level

There are tons of ways to differentiate or DIAL-up/down the hitpoints, but you start with more survivability at lower levels (Unless you go gritty) and in all systems, at higher levels, you've slowed down the overall hitpoint progression.

For even Grittier advancement:
1. Add HD and Con Mod every Even level until 10th, after 10th, only add Con Mod every even level.
2. Alternate adding HD and Con Mod at even levels (2nd: +HD, 4th: +mod, 6th: +HD, 8th: +mod, 10th: +HD) and then just Mod every even after 10th.
3. Add only Con Mod at Even levels, never add more HD 
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I guess this is obvious to everybody but me, but why is it definitionally a problem for a character who invests literally everything the system allows - class, attribute points, race, a feat - into HP to have several times more HP than a character that invests literally nothing at all into it? That's what investing everything does; it makes you several times better at something that somebody who invests nothing at all into it. Somebody investing nothing at all into AC gets hit several times more often than a theoretical max-AC character. Somebody investing as deeply as the system allows into accuracy and damage will have several times the DPR of somebody investing nothing at all into that. That's how it works.

If the rogue class isn't properly compensating someone using it for the lower HP vs. a Barbarian, that's a problem with the balance between those two classes, not with how HP works. If toughness is such a great feat, or dwarf is such a great race that everyone wants to take them for the extra HP, then that's a feat and race balance issue, not an HP issue. (Also, not actually the case.) If Constitution gives such amazing returns on HP that everybody is cranking their Con through the roof, that might actually mean something, but are they? There might be some truth there - Con is at least somewhat important for everybody, but is it unduly important? It might be, but I don't think that's obvious, nor do I think that that's revealed by comparing max-HP builds to no-HP-investment builds. Does something in the game fundemenally break down because a Max-HP build has so many more HP than a build that invests in HP not at all, or is it just a case of "geez, one of these numbers is larger than another one of these numbers"?
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If Constitution gives such amazing returns on HP that everybody is cranking their Con through the roof, that might actually mean something, but are they?

It may just be that nobody uses it as a dump stat, which is untrue of virtually every other stat in the game, while very stat has at least one class which benefits most from it (at least, once the warlock/sorcerer come back). If you use Con as a dump stat (and I shudder to think that a 10 is considered a dump stat these days), then you are at a significant survival disparity compared to the one class that gets everything out of Con, who will get it up to 20 in short order.

Really, though, you should be comparing both ends to the middle. If the "average" character has d8 hit dice and Con 14, is the scrawny rogue or iron barbarian so far off from that as to be unreasonable?


The metagame is not the game.
I guess this is obvious to everybody but me, but why is it definitionally a problem for a character who invests literally everything the system allows - class, attribute points, race, a feat - into HP to have several times more HP than a character that invests literally nothing at all into it? That's what investing everything does; it makes you several times better at something that somebody who invests nothing at all into it. Somebody investing nothing at all into AC gets hit several times more often than a theoretical max-AC character. Somebody investing as deeply as the system allows into accuracy and damage will have several times the DPR of somebody investing nothing at all into that. That's how it works.

If the rogue class isn't properly compensating someone using it for the lower HP vs. a Barbarian, that's a problem with the balance between those two classes, not with how HP works. If toughness is such a great feat, or dwarf is such a great race that everyone wants to take them for the extra HP, then that's a feat and race balance issue, not an HP issue. (Also, not actually the case.) If Constitution gives such amazing returns on HP that everybody is cranking their Con through the roof, that might actually mean something, but are they? There might be some truth there - Con is at least somewhat important for everybody, but is it unduly important? It might be, but I don't think that's obvious, nor do I think that that's revealed by comparing max-HP builds to no-HP-investment builds. Does something in the game fundemenally break down because a Max-HP build has so many more HP than a build that invests in HP not at all, or is it just a case of "geez, one of these numbers is larger than another one of these numbers"?




The issue is the scale to which things are off.

Lets say you have the 70 HP rogue in the party with the 280 then what challenge could possibly scare the barbarian that wouldn't slaughter the rogue.

I'd say a 2x HP difference between high and low is about as much as the system can possibly take, but a near 4x HP difference is too much for monster math to handle.

Besides, having all PCs have 14-16 Con is lame.


1- Barbarians with d12 HP. Dislike that. I agree with the OP here, that d10 should be the highest.
(In fact, I dislike the Barbarian class in general but let's not get into that.)

2- Rogue/Thief is a skill-based class, not martial/warrior-type, so I don't mind it having considerably less HP than warrior-types. Barbarians having 3.8x a rogue's HP is too much, I agree, but the example was using both extremes, and if the d12 were reduced to d10 like I proposed above this should be already a bridge in that gap. Default rogues/thieves aren't really combatants, they can fight but they're opportunists who go into melee and strike when they find the situation favorable, and relatively safe, but they're not "front men" and I'm fine with a skill-based non-combat class having less HP. I think even d8 can be too much for rogues.

3- I think wizards should remain squishy with their d4 HD. I like the "powerful but very fragile" idea of a wizard.

4- In AD&D a 18 constitution gave the same +4 on HP for warriors (+2 for non-warriors). Using the "extremes" example it would be the same math, except in AD&D you didn't get more HDs, neither Con bonus, past level 10. Other people have mentioned that already in this post. I like this AD&D approach a lot. Your characters grow in a good rate at lower levels, but we avoid the 200+ HPs of newer editions. When HP gets too big it causes a problem. We end up having to inflate all numbers in the game to keep up with it, including damage, and then characters with less HP are in a really tight spot.

Lower HP at high levels = less damage inflation = playing with non-combat oriented characters (with lower HPs) becomes viable, and not a problem.

And finally, I should mention what I've said a few times already.

If ability scores (in general, not only Con) gave less bonuses for combat/saves/HP/spells... something like +1 at a score of 15, and only +2 at a score of 18... this problem with the "extremes" in HP would also be lessened considerably.

I vote for abilities being less relevant for combat related checks and min/maxing class potential, and more relevant for skill checks and basic ability checks (with a separate, bigger modifier) like climbing, tumbling, knowing stuff, interacting with NPCs, etc.

Not only this would lessen the "extremes" problem but players would be able to set up their abilities with more concept in mind, and less min/maxing of class functionality. The benefits for class functionality can be mostly provided by the class itself. Your fighter could have, perhaps, Intelligence higher than his Strength, just because you like what you can do with Int and like the idea of a smart combatant or tactical leader... and the lower Str wouldn't hurt you all that much.
I would prefer to limit the HP past level 10, much like the AD&D. I do not have a problem with low HP at low level. by 3rd level you shouldn't have '1-shot' concerns unless you are fighting that tough of a monster or trap.



I agree I would prefer less HP bloat overall. I wonder whether this would work with bounded accuracy. You would need to reduce damage at higher levels too.

I think hitpoints are fine the way it is. 
If ability scores (in general, not only Con) gave less bonuses for combat/saves/HP/spells... something like +1 at a score of 15, and only +2 at a score of 18... this problem with the "extremes" in HP would also be lessened considerably.

I vote for abilities being less relevant for combat related checks and min/maxing class potential, and more relevant for skill checks and basic ability checks (with a separate, bigger modifier) like climbing, tumbling, knowing stuff, interacting with NPCs, etc.


That would require re-introducing multiple modifiers for each attribute and for players to have to remember what counts as a "combat" application of a bonus and what does not (should be obvious in most places, but I don't see why Tumbling wouldn't be considered combat related).

I agree in principle that ability scores create a non-trivial difference and that this isn't great, but this seems to be more of a side effect of bounded accuracy. In a game like 4e, the bonuses you got from your attributes started out important, but got less and less important as time went on as bonuses from other sources became a larger portion of your total bonus.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I'd say a 2x HP difference between high and low is about as much as the system can possibly take, but a near 4x HP difference is too much for monster math to handle.



  The HP difference in 3.5E could be far far vaster than 4x.  Lots of games have such large differences.  If the system can't handle it, then it is probably a bad system.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

I guess this is obvious to everybody but me, but why is it definitionally a problem for a character who invests literally everything the system allows - class, attribute points, race, a feat - into HP to have several times more HP than a character that invests literally nothing at all into it? That's what investing everything does; it makes you several times better at something that somebody who invests nothing at all into it. Somebody investing nothing at all into AC gets hit several times more often than a theoretical max-AC character. Somebody investing as deeply as the system allows into accuracy and damage will have several times the DPR of somebody investing nothing at all into that. That's how it works.

If the rogue class isn't properly compensating someone using it for the lower HP vs. a Barbarian, that's a problem with the balance between those two classes, not with how HP works. If toughness is such a great feat, or dwarf is such a great race that everyone wants to take them for the extra HP, then that's a feat and race balance issue, not an HP issue. (Also, not actually the case.) If Constitution gives such amazing returns on HP that everybody is cranking their Con through the roof, that might actually mean something, but are they? There might be some truth there - Con is at least somewhat important for everybody, but is it unduly important? It might be, but I don't think that's obvious, nor do I think that that's revealed by comparing max-HP builds to no-HP-investment builds. Does something in the game fundemenally break down because a Max-HP build has so many more HP than a build that invests in HP not at all, or is it just a case of "geez, one of these numbers is larger than another one of these numbers"?




The issue is the scale to which things are off.

Lets say you have the 70 HP rogue in the party with the 280 then what challenge could possibly scare the barbarian that wouldn't slaughter the rogue.

I'd say a 2x HP difference between high and low is about as much as the system can possibly take, but a near 4x HP difference is too much for monster math to handle.

Besides, having all PCs have 14-16 Con is lame.

I have to agree with Lesp. I have had no problems with this type of HP disparity in all my years of playing and DMing. The party has to be considered as a whole; not its individual pieces, compared against each other. The high HP fighter should be taking most of the attacks; while the low HP rogue (or wizard) is avoiding direct attacks. Team work is an integral part of D&D.

This is just another problem that exists only at certain tables or, worse yet, only in "numbers theory" situations; I just haven't seen it in real life game-play.

If Constitution gives such amazing returns on HP that everybody is cranking their Con through the roof, that might actually mean something, but are they?

It may just be that nobody uses it as a dump stat, which is untrue of virtually every other stat in the game, while very stat has at least one class which benefits most from it (at least, once the warlock/sorcerer come back). If you use Con as a dump stat (and I shudder to think that a 10 is considered a dump stat these days), then you are at a significant survival disparity compared to the one class that gets everything out of Con, who will get it up to 20 in short order.

Really, though, you should be comparing both ends to the middle. If the "average" character has d8 hit dice and Con 14, is the scrawny rogue or iron barbarian so far off from that as to be unreasonable?



I think here the talk of "Con 10" as a dump of con was because it is so important that while 6-8 could be dumping Cha, you should never, ever go below 10 Con if you want to live. I remember in 3rd, gods help you if you had a con of 8 (and doubly so if you weren't a D10 or D12 HD). It's actually one of the things I really liked about 4e's HP progression: I can play characters with con 8, and I certainly have fewer healing surges and HP than basically everyone (our wizard likes to have con 16-18 if he can manage. he often out HPs my cleric for a while), but I am not a liability and can survive combats.

The big issue when your HP scale goes from 70 to 280 (or, good god, the poor frail elf wizard with 8 Con who gets only 50 HP at level 20!!!!!) is that, as pointed out, you cannot possibly threaten the big meaty character without insta-killing the scrawny one. You never want a situation where a reasonable challenge for some of the party murders the rest, because then the rest might as well not be there at all, and you get either everyone with low con or (more likely) only characters with high con.

Personally I like the idea of Con score for "level 0" and then gain HD/a static 3, 4, or 5 for HP, depending on HP tier of your class. That should give the wizard with 8 con 68 HP and the fighter with 20 con 120 HP, which is a noticable gap, but something that threatens that sort of fighter should be doing like 40ish damage a hit, which is enough for the wizard to survive and get away/get a heal, etc.

As people also noted, damage and HP scaling are intrinsically linked. In all truth, one of the biggest problems with damage/HP scaling is spells. You look at the crazy damage that comes out of meteor swarm (for example), and you know that your party and the enemy have to be able to survive that - perhaps even twice. That sets the tone for the HP at upper levels. Then, the damage of others classes gets brought up as well so that a) they're not useless next to the offensive might of the casters and b) if a party doesn't have a caster, then they're not totally screwed against high level monsters that they could never damage quickly enough.

Honestly, I would not mind if numbers were toned down across the board. For comparison, big hitting daily attacks in 4e did roughly 2-3[W] damage at level 1, and increased to 5[w] damage at level 20; caster dice scaled similarly (few dice to handful of dice, depending on area vs single target, side effects, etc). In fact, some people look at 4e as scaling HP a bit faster than damage output! (not even counting how inflated monster base HP was lol). If you kept that damage scaling and then lined up HP accordingly, that could be very interesting. I certainly thought the level 20 daily effects were plenty flashy, and went WHOOOAH O_O when I saw 7[W] on the level 30 ones (one particular Avenger power that stuck with me had no side effects at all, but did 9[W] and that felt crazy awesome).
Right now Con plays a major role in determining ones HP. A little too much if you ask me. On one end of the spectrum, a 10 Con rogue has on average 72.5 HP by level 20, while on the other end the 20 Con dwarven barbarian with toughness has an average of 275.5 HP (that is 3.8 times as much HP for those doing the math).

Sure these are the extreme ends of the spectrum, but shouldn't the game not fall apart at the extremes? The HP values only seem to work if all PCs have a minimum of 14 Con and no PC goes above 18 Con (and god forbid you make a dwarf with toughness!). Who really thinks it is acceptable for the 18 Con dwarven wizard to have 3 times as much HP as the 10 Con elven rogue?

That just seems...wrong.

I think we can design a better system. Here is my suggestion:

Hit Die fall into three categories. High: d10 (or 5.5), Medium: d8 (or 4.5), and Low: d6 (or 3.5). Fighters, barbarians, and paladins have high HD. Druids, clerics, rogues, and rangers have medium HD. Wizards have low HD. Do not add your Con mod to HP ever.

Level 0: HP is equal to your Con score. No bonus for hit dice. Level 0 creatures include peasants, goblins, kobolds, and any other standard humanoids with no class levels. *For grittier games, remove this bonus from the players.

Level 1+: Roll your class HD and add the result to your HP total. You may reroll any value less than or equal to your Con mod.

For those who do not like rolled HP, the calculation is simple. Each point of Con mod increases your average HP per level by 0.5.

Using this method, a 10 con wizard would gain 3.5 HP per level (45 total HP at level 10). A 16 Con wizard would gain 5 HP per level (66 total HP at level 10).

Note: Using this method we would need to change the toughness feat and the dwarven feature that grants extra HP to not provide a flat HP bonus.

Once all is said and done, this method reduces HP totals and reduces the HP variance between party members while still keeping Con as a useful ability score past level 1. At one extreme we have a 20 Con level 20 barbarian who can expect to have 180 HP on average. At the other we have a 10 Con level 20 wizard who can expect to have 80 HP on average. The difference, while still large, is significantly better than a 72 HP wizard vs a 275 HP barbarian.

Also, the level 0 Con score buffer allows for PCs to endure an extra hit at low levels to prevent the dreaded "1-shot", but it is easily removable for those who want a grittier game. (It could also be 1/2 Con score at level 0 for that gritty feel).



My houserule for this is to have CON Score + HD at level one (as in the first packet), then at level-up a character gets additional rolls of their HD roll equal to their CON modifier and take the highest result.  A 10 CON character just rolls their hit die, same as most editions.  A negative CON modifier, though, would roll additional hit dice and take the lowest result.

So, to use your example characters, the 10 CON rogue would start play with 16hp and gain their 1d6hp per level with no additional hit dice rolled. The 20 CON barbarian, on the other hand, would start play with 32hp and roll his hit die 6 times and take the best result.  While that may seem absurdly overpowered at first glance, the important thing to remember is that he can never earn more than 12hp per level no matter what his CON score is and, despite his dramatically improved odds, there's still no guarantee of actually rolling a 12 on any of his six rolls.
If we are dreaming, here is mine:

Scrap HP based on class. Embrace that HP is completely abstract, and that every mechanic should support that. HP = [sum of ability mods] + f(level), where f(level) is desired HP scaling based on character level. In my model, ALL characters of the same level with the same ability mods would have the SAME HP. HP = survivability, which can come in many forms, but should always be heavily influenced by character level. Now, the trick is to design the classes to stretch that HP in different ways, to better conform to their flavor.

A melee combatant might have features for mitigating damage, thereby increasing their effective HP, where such features would be lacking (or weaker) on ranged combatants (including most casters). A caster might have defensive spells that temporarily increase HP. Skills (like acrobatics) might reduce damage taken from falls or hazardous terrain.

Damage would then need to scale using a similar f(level) model, such that two characters of the same level will be evenly matched if their offensive and defensive features are comparable. A fully offensive build vs a fully defensive build should make for a fairly long (and possibly boring) encounter,  with the winner being decided more on luck than anything else.

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That would require re-introducing multiple modifiers for each attribute and for players to have to remember what counts as a "combat" application of a bonus and what does not (should be obvious in most places, but I don't see why Tumbling wouldn't be considered combat related).

I agree in principle that ability scores create a non-trivial difference and that this isn't great, but this seems to be more of a side effect of bounded accuracy. In a game like 4e, the bonuses you got from your attributes started out important, but got less and less important as time went on as bonuses from other sources became a larger portion of your total bonus.



You only need 2 modifiers, really. Not those giant tables from AD&D.

And it's quite easy to figure out what is what, since D&D already has names for what's not "just an ability roll" per se.
If it's a to hit roll, a save roll, a damage roll... then it's not a basic ability roll, and it gets the "combat" modifier.
Same goes for static stats on the sheet, like Hit Points, AC and spell DC.

Everything else is an ability check. Rolling on the ground is a Dexterity check. Using Tumble is just a "trained" use of this Dex check.


I use the word "combat" here loosely just as a reference because these modifiers (for To Hit, saves, DC, HP, etc) are usually more oriented to combat-related rolls and static stats. We need not call it "combat modifier" if it may cause problems. The point is not to discuss if tumbling during a combat round is considered part of the combat or not, but just to differentiate the modifiers.